(Reuters) – A key ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that Moscow would not stop its military campaign in Ukraine even if Kiev formally abandoned its aspirations to join NATO.
Former President Dmitri Medvedev, now vice-chairman of Russia’s Security Council, also said in a French television interview that Russia was willing to hold talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, subject to certain conditions.
Even before the February invasion, Moscow made it clear that Ukraine’s membership of NATO was unacceptable.
“Abandoning participation in the North Atlantic Alliance is now essential, but it is already insufficient to establish peace,” Medvedev told LCI television in quotes quoted by Russian news agencies.
He said that Russia will continue the campaign until its objectives are achieved. Putin says he wants to “denazify” Ukraine. Kyiv and the West say this is a baseless pretext for a war of conquest.
There have been several rounds of talks between Russia and Ukraine since the offensive began, but they have made no progress and are unlikely to resume.
“It (talks) will depend on how events unfold. We were ready to meet (Zelensky) earlier,” Medvedev said.
In his comments, he also said that U.S. weapons already supplied to Ukraine — such as HIMARS multiple-rocket launchers — did not yet pose a major threat.
But that could change, he said, if US-supplied weapons can hit long-range targets.
“It means that when this type of missile flies 70 km, it’s one thing,” he said. “But when it is 300-400 km, it is another, now it will be a threat directly to the territory of the Russian Federation.”
(Reporting by Ronald Popesky, Editing by David Ljunggren and Alastair Bell)